Ahead of April opening, the potential Ontario market players are emerging

Within mere days of the announcement last week that Ontario’s long-awaited regulated online gambling and sports betting market would officially open on April 4, predicted major players in the market are confirming their licensing.

Beginning on that date, private gaming operators that have registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and have executed an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario (iGO) can begin operating gaming sites in the Ontario market on behalf of the province.

Ontario’s will be the first licensed and regulated iGaming market in Canada and will provide players with a broader selection of legal bookmakers. Until April 4, the offerings of Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) are the only legal gambling options available to Ontarians within the province.

Long before even that confirmation of a firm timeline, it had been predicted that big-name companies in the US market such as DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, Rush Street Interactive, and Penn National Gaming would be aggressively seeking licenses from AGCO to compete with OLG in the Ontario market.

Announcements are already coming. On February 3, just six days after the confirmation of the market opening timelne, PointsBet Canada became the first private operator to confirm it has been granted AGCO approval to operate as a licensed iGaming provider and sportsbook in the province’s new regulated market.

PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel said in a news release that licensing was “a momentous step” for the company and confirmed the brand’s offerings would be ready to hit the ground running from April 4.

Vanderwel opined that PointsBet’s approval is a testament to the fact it has “remained genuine to our promise of building a Canadian sportsbook, with Canadian employees, for the Canadian market”.

Within a couple of hours on February 3, Toronto-based made-in-Canada sportsbook theScore Bet announced its own registration as an iGaming operator in the Ontario market.

The licensing of theScore Bet, which was the first prospective operator to secure Gaming Labs International (GLI) certification for Ontario and RG Check iGaming Accreditation from the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), gives Penn National a strong foothold in the market. Penn acquired theScore for around C$2.5 billion in October.

theScore CEO John Levy said the company, a long-time advocate of opening up and broadening the Ontario market for online gambling and betting, is “thrilled” to be among the first operators to receive registration.

One thing both operators have in common is that they have been steadily ramping up their Canadian-focused operations and struck numerous partnerships in recent months.

PointsBet has become the official betting partner of organizations such as Curling Canada and the NHL’s Alumni Association, while theScore has teamed up with Golf Canada, amongst others.

While the two brands were the first to parade their registration, others, such as Toronto-based Rivalry, have also confirmed their licensing.

More announcements will of course follow.

Covers reported on February 3 that at least 30 operators of online sportsbooks and gambling websites have applied to the AGCO for registration so far. By the time April 4 rolls around, the market will be taking shape.

As Levy puts it: “Finally, the countdown to launch has begun.”

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